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Industry players pour cold water on Tanjung Priok diversion plan

Industry players pour cold water on Tanjung Priok diversion plan
A plan to reduce dwelling times at Indonesia's main port of Tanjung Priok by diverting traffic to three subsidiary ports in Banten to the west of Jakarta has met with a cool reception from industry players and officials, local reports said.

The Office of the Coordinating Maritime Affairs Minister earlier this week said it planned to work with the Transportation Ministry and state port operator Pelindo II to help optimize the three ports in Banten, Cigading Port, Merak Mas Port and Ciwandan Port, to start receiving containers and help relieve some of the volumes at Tanjung Priok.

However, a senior official with the transportation ministry said the plan needed further assessment as the ports normally only take smaller breakbulk cargo and not containers. “So, to divert the flow of goods, we need more specific study on the matter because these three ports are not specialized for containers,” said Mauritz Sibarani, port and dredging director with the Transportation Ministry.

Dwelling time is still a major issue at Indonesian ports and the situation at Tanjung Priok in particular is set to worsen. Official figures show that as at 14 March, dwelling time in the country was 3.6 days, short of President Joko Widodo's target of three days and well above the international average of one to two days.

At Tanjung Priok, dwelling times, even hit a high of 4.5 days in February, with most time still spent on pre-custom clearances. Meanwhile 65% of Indonesia's volumes still go through Tanjung Priok and throughput is continually rising each year.

Mauritz noted that the Banten ports are actually quite well-suited for bigger vessels to call because it has a deep draft, but he questioned the effectiveness and the potential demand as most industrial estates are located in Karawang, which is closer to Tanjung Priok.

“We even thought about building a port in Bojonegara, but the industry did not flourish. It did not grow as well as Karawang,” he said, referring to the development plan for Bojonegara Port, which was also  meant to help take some volumes from Tanjung Priok but has languished since 2003.

Banten is in a slightly better position as it does have several industrial areas, including the Cikande Industrial Estate in Serang and the Krakatau Industrial Estate Cilegon (KIEC).

However Indonesian Logistics Association (ALI) chairman Zaldi Ilham Masita brought up the more relevant issue of port calls by the lines. “I think it might work in the short term. Those ports have potential, but the problem is there is no international vessel that merely carries containers just for the Banten area. They still need to stop at Tanjung Priok before they continue to Banten,” he said.

Coordinating maritime affairs official and dwelling time task force head Agung Kuswandono said: “If companies in Banten want to import goods, they don’t need to go through Tanjung Priok first.”

David Rahadian, commercial and business development director of Krakatau Bandar Samudera, which runs Cigading Port, pointed out that while the port did have a deeper draft of 21m compared to 14m at Tanjung Priok, "there aren’t many cargoes coming here yet”.

David added that the government also needed to improve the port’s connectivity, as it was still insufficient. The port currently can take in up to 12m tonnes of cargo, while Ciwandan can take 8.3m tonnes.